Emergency preparedness should be exercised at all organizational levels. Office-based physicians (whether they work in a hospital or in a free-standing practice) should understand the role of their office within the context of the community's disaster plan. A written preparedness plan can help practices reduce risks, maintain practice operations, and ensure a medical home for the children in their care. Pediatricians should prepare, regularly update, and practice an office plan that is coordinated with local hospital and community emergency response plans. The American Academy of Pediatrics has prepared the following resources to assist its members to improve their preparedness for a disaster:
A child-oriented, comprehensive, emergency care system maintains the concept of systematic intervention in response to disasters while also viewing the needs of the child in the context of family and community. This framework is particularly suited to the office-based physician, who brings knowledge about responses and the needs of children involved in disasters and should work across public systems to render effective medical, educational, and community interventions. The objective is to ensure that the biological and psychological needs
of children are addressed before, during, and after traumatic situations.
Pediatricians can support preparedness for children with special health care needs by coordinating completion of appropriate Emergency Information Forms
and Comprehensive Care Plans
In mass casualty incidents, including those involving chemical
, and radiologic/nuclear
agents or blast trauma
, casualties could be significant. Because children constitute approximately 25% of the US population, if there is a disaster, it is likely that there will be victims who are children. Pediatricians should assist in preparedness planning to ensure coordinated responses of local hospitals that may have limited pediatric resources. Facilities may be overwhelmed by massive numbers of anxious individuals and families and could be a primary or secondary target themselves. Pediatricians working in or supporting hospitals can help to ensure enhanced care of the pediatric disaster victim by participating in all levels of disaster preparedness planning. An important first step is to work with a local hospital to complete the Guidelines for Care of Children in the Emergency Department
Pediatricians working in or supporting hospitals should interact with the planning committee to ensure adequate training and preparation of supplies and treatment areas in the emergency department and serve as facilitators among emergency department services, critical care services, and regular inpatient services. Coordination with the local community should involve primary, prehospital, and infrastructure response (with liaison planning to state and federal agencies) and community/citizen response. Considerations should be made for accepting pediatric patients, even if this is not the typical pattern of referral.
Pediatricians who wish to increase their involvement
can sign up in their state to volunteer in advance and take steps to promote hospital preparedness.Text adapted from the Pediatric Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness: A Resource for Pediatricians manual.Resources